Many sports require a world-wide star to thrive. Look at golf. As I’ve blogged about before, it is a sport that needs Tiger Woods and suffers dramatically without him. That was backed up by the US TV Ratings for the Bay Hill Invitational last week, won by Tiger Woods, which were the highest since last June’s U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods. I also feel that it’s no co-incidence that the heydays of heavyweight boxing were the 1930s/1940s and the 1960s/1970s which were the eras of Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali.
Another sport which requires a star is Formula 1. More so than golf, boxing, tennis or perhaps any other sport, Formula 1 is personality driven due to the fact that there are so few competitors. From Senna to Schumacher to Hamilton, it is a sport that has been led by one man or another throughout my lifetime and for many years before that. There is no doubt, that in Western Europe at least, Lewis Hamilton is the sport’s most important figure. It is because of this that this week’s scandal has been of such major importance.
For those of you who’ve not been paying attention, Lewis Hamilton has been retrospectively disqualified from last week’s Australian Grand Prix for lying to stewards who were investigating a late-race overtaking manoeuvre which occurred under safety car conditions. Hamilton and McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan claimed that he had not been instructed to allow Toyota’s Jarno Trulli past, when the team’s radio clearly indicated that he had been. McLaren have suspended Ryan for his part in this debacle – whoop-de-doo. But where is the action against Hamilton?
The stewards have disqualified him but the team are, unsurprisingly, shying away from sanctioning the man who led them to a World Championship last year. Should they? Well, anyone who has listened to the team radio would clearly recognise that he was fully aware that he was told to allow Trulli past. Yet he claimed, in front of the sport’s governing bodies, that he was innocent. Disgraceful is not the word. Hamilton is a duplicitous little shit who has told a bare-faced lie. Now he wouldn’t be the first Formula 1 driver to cheat. He wouldn’t be the first World Champion. And this story, due to it’s technical nature, may have bypassed the vast majority of sports fans but within the sport his image has been tarnished. This writer has lost a lot of respect for a driver he once admired.